Ole Miss baseball: Turning the page

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – After a weekend of thrills and a bit of reflection, the biggest win for Matt Snyder had nothing to do with the LSU series.
It was the week before in Columbia.
“The Sunday win at South Carolina really turned the page for us,” the Ole Miss first baseman said. “That was probably the biggest win of the season.”
The wins keep getting bigger as they keep coming back to back. After three of them against then-No. 8 LSU, the Rebels lept to No. 14 on Monday in this week’s Baseball America Top 25 and enter the week on a five-game win streak.
The clean-up hitter, Snyder re-injured his right shoulder, only slightly it appeared immediately, in the impromptu celebration that followed Sunday’s sweep-clinching 7-6 win over LSU. He dislocated the shoulder at Tulane in early March. That injury and others more minor have caused him to miss 15 games.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said Snyder was in “a little pain” Monday, but had good strength. The injury is not believed to be serious. It’s possible Snyder could be rested in one or both mid-week games.
The Rebels are at home tonight against Murray State and Wednesday against Tennessee-Martin.
Both games begin at 6:30 p.m.
Going into last Sunday’s 5-4 win at South Carolina, the Rebels had lost four straight, three of them within the SEC and had not won the final game of a weekend series since defeating Oakland 9-3 on Feb. 28.
As the LSU weekend began, the Rebels had reached seven runs just twice and had not surpassed seven runs in their previous 14 games. They had averaged just 3.3 runs, 10 runs total, in losing twice at South Carolina last weekend.
In the LSU series, the Rebels scored 29 runs on 37 hits.
“We knew there was going to be great pitching this weekend, but there was great offense too,” said senior shortstop Kevin Mort, whose walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Rebels to Sunday’s 7-6 win. “I think this is going to give us a lot of momentum.”
That’s something Ole Miss (28-13, 11-7 SEC) can use this weekend at Mississippi State.
While the Bulldogs (20-20, 5-13 SEC) have not been as successful as they would like, it was just a year ago that Ole Miss was competing for the SEC West and overall titles and lost twice against a similarly struggling MSU team at home.
Heroes rise
There were a number of heroes to help the Rebels’ improved offensive numbers, none bigger than Snyder and freshman second baseman Alex Yarbrough.
Snyder had three home runs, one of them a grand slam, and seven RBIs for the weekend.
Yarbrough had the walk-off single in the 11th inning off SEC saves leader Matty Ott to win the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader 9-8.
“I always think this is the time where the offense picks up, after about 100 at-bats,” Bianco said. “The hitters, it’s hard to just blow it by them any more, hard to just fool them with a breaking ball. They’ve seen so many pitches.”
With the Rebels trailing 6-4 in the eighth on Sunday, Snyder and Yarbrough had solo home runs to tie the game.
In addition to timely hitting that hadn’t been around in a while, the Rebels got solid pitching from their bullpen in both long and short relief.
Bianco, now 17-17 against LSU, his alma mater, said winning the final game at South Carolina was indeed critical, but he sensed improvement through the week in the Rebels’ 7-2 win over Southern Miss.
“We hadn’t played horrible. We just hadn’t played well enough to win. There’s a difference. It’s amazing, confidence and what things can do, but after we won that game … you don’t know, but we looked like a different team Tuesday night.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or parrish.alford@djournal.com

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